2012 UCSC Linguistics graduate Kelsey Kraus will spend the next year living and working in Germany as the recipient of a prestigious Fulbright Scholarship.

Kraus begins teaching today at the Hermann-Ehlers-Gymnasium in Berlin. Her job this year will be to provide assistance for teachers of English to non-native English-speakers.

The Fulbright Program is the flagship international educational exchange program sponsored by the U.S. government, with the aim of increasing mutual understanding between the people of the United States and those of other countries.

Chosen on the basis of academic merit and leadership potential, Fulbright scholars like Kraus are employed each year to help teach English language courses while serving as ambassadors for U.S. culture.

Kraus graduated from UCSC in June, earning two bachelor's degrees--one in Linguistics (Honors), and the other in German Studies (Highest Honors).

“I like learning languages,” said Kraus, who also has a basic working knowledge of Spanish, Swedish and Turkish, in addition to fluency in German.

“As a seasoned second-language learner, I know the challenges one faces when trying to communicate in a foreign tongue first-hand, especially when one’s grasp of the language is limited to formal grammar and exercises that do not extend outside of the classroom,” she added. 

Kraus said she is looking forward to now being on the other side of the equation in Germany, where she will encourage students to achieve a high level of fluency in her own native language.

“It's really the daily interactions with native speakers and becoming aware of the subtleties of a language that makes you really excited to learn one,” she noted. “I'm hoping that I'll be able to interact with the students quite regularly, enough so that they're as excited about learning my language as I was about learning theirs.”
 
While in Berlin, Kraus will also have the opportunity to study at one of the three major universities in the city, a pursuit encouraged by the Fulbright program.

Kraus grew up in Eureka, living on the rural Northern California coast until she finished high school in 2007. After taking classes in Portland and San Jose for a few years, she took a year off to become an au pair in Brandenburg, Germany for a family with three children, before coming to study at UC Santa Cruz.  

Kraus said she is interested in possibly becoming a foreign service officer, holding a research position at a university or research facility, or working for an international corporation.

Her Fulbright scholarship with the school in Berlin spans the whole academic year, ending next July.